By Marion Ali
Guatemalan President, Otto Perez Molina resigned at midnight on Friday, and Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has expressed hope that Guatemala’s instability does not lead to further contention in the volatile Sarstoon island area in southern Belize.
“While it is worrying, given our particular circumstances, given the difficulties we have just experienced with respect certainly to the Sarstoon incident, [the] instability in Guatemala is extremely concerning”, Mr Barrow told reporters on Friday.
The Prime Minister expressed hope that through the military to military and interpersonal relations between our countries’ “Generals”, professionalism will prevail if there are any encounters between our citizens and Guatemalan military personnel.
Mr Barrow also expressed hope that newly sworn in Guatemalan Vice President Alejandro Maldonado, “will be able to exercise the duties of the presidency in a manner that will see all officialdom in Guatemala accepting his authority.”
Perez Molina resigned amidst a mounting corruption scandal following months of public protests. He appeared in court on Thursday to hear charges against him.
The 64 year-old became the first Guatemalan president to step down after a judge issued an order to detain him on charges of fraud, illicit association and receiving bribe money.
The Guatemalan congress voted on Thursday afternoon to accept Perez Molina’s resignation and appointed his successor, Alejandro Maldonado, who was next in line to assume power, in accordance with that country’s constitution.
Maldonado’s term will only last until Sunday when Guatemalans will elect a new president, vice president and members of the congress.
Maldonado, a conservative lawyer and former Constitutional Court judge, recently became vice president, replacing Roxana Baldetti, who resigned on May 8 because of the same scandal. She is in jail, facing charges. Both she and Perez Molina have maintained their innocence.
Following Baldetti’s resignation, the heads of the Ministries of Interior, Environment, Energy and Mines, the tax collection agency, the social security agency and the Guatemalan Central Bank also stepped down amid probes into a wide variety of corruption scandals.